US Navy: We need more aircraft carriers, combat ships to meet rising global threats



The US Navy's new Force Structure Assessment states that the "potential adversaries" have developed advanced capabilities that could "undermine" or "erode" the US military's edge in conventional warfare at sea.

The Navy's answer to the rising challenge is more ships. To be precise, 83 more of them.

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The Navy requested the biggest increases in large surface combat ships, attack submarines, amphibious warfare ships, and an additional Ford-class aircraft carrier.

"A minimum of 12 Aircraft Carriers are required to meet the increased warfighting response requirements," read the Navy's assessment.

The US Navy operates more aircraft carriers (full on carriers or "helicopter carriers") than all the world's navies combined, but 2016 has seen threats rising to US forces around the globe.

37 PHOTOS
The US Navy through history
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The US Navy through history

In the decades after the Civil War, America began a new era of foreign intervention with the Navy leading the way. This 1899 photo shows sailors eating on the USS Olympia, which was the US's flagship during the Spanish-American War of the previous year.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

The USS Holland, seen in this photo from 1900, was the Navy's first commissioned submarine.

(Photo via US Navy)

President Theodore Roosevelt ordered a fleet of US ships to circumnavigate the globe from 1907-1909.

(Photo via US Navy)

The Great White Fleet sent an unmistakable message about American naval power.

(Photo via US Navy)

As the first World War raged in Europe, America rushed to build more and better ships, as seen in this 1917 photo ...

(Photo via Library of Congress)

... and grew the ranks of sailors, as seen in this 1917 picture of graduation exercises at the Naval Academy.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

The last of the US Navy's rigid airships, the USS Macon performed scouting missions from 1933 to 1935.

(Photo via US Naval Historical Center)

Since 1935, American ports have hosted "Fleet Week," a celebration of the sea services including sailors, Marines, and coast guardsmen. Here, sailors arrive in Manhattan in 1941.

(Photo via US Navy)

Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 spurred America's entry into World War II. This photo shows a memorial service for sailors killed in the attack.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

Sailors at Pearl Harbor worked to salvage their ships and restore the base. This picture shows the recovery of a Japanese midget submarine abandoned during the Pearl Harbor attack.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

Meanwhile, on the mainland, recruits signed up for the Navy and other armed services by the millions.

(Photo via WW2 Museum)

Women also served the Navy through the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) program.

(Photo via US Navy)

The US Navy led the war against the Japanese in the Pacific. This 1942 photo shows the torpedoed Japanese destroyer Yamakaze photographed through the periscope of USS Nautilus.

(Photo via US Navy)

One of the most famous incidents in Navy history occurred at 2:30 am on August 2, 1943, when 25-year-old John F. Kennedy's patrol torpedo boat was hit by a Japanese destroyer. Two of Kennedy's men were killed in the crash.

(Photo via John F Kennedy Presidential Library)

The Navy also fought the Nazis, as seen in this 1944 photo showing the capture of a German U-Boat.

(Photo via US Navy)

On August 14, 1945, Japan surrendered to the Allies, effectively ending World War II. The highly anticipated "Victory over Japan Day," gave way to some uninhibited celebrations — like this classic sailor's kiss in Times Square.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

Only five years after WWII, America was fighting another war, this time in Korea. This 1950 photo shows the USS Missouri bombarding Korea's communist-held Northern coastline in order to cut enemy communications.

(Photo via US Navy)

The Navy has planes too, about 3,700. This 1950 photo shows Boeing B-29 Superfortresses dropping 500 pound bombs on a chemical plant during the Korean War.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

The US Navy's Douglas Skyraider was known for being able to take hits and keep flying. Here's a Skyraider deploying bombs in 1952 over Korea.

(Photo via US Navy)

Beginning in 1964 and lasting for most of the next decade, the Vietnam War was the next major US conflict. This Navy jet fighter shoots Zuni rockets while flying over South Vietnam.

(Photo via US Navy)

A crewman sits behind a machine gun while on patrol on the Go Cong River. Fighting in dense jungle against well-supplied Viet Cong left American troops frustrated with combat conditions. It was after this war that "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder" was officially identified.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

The Navy played a major role during the Cuban Missile Crisis, enforcing a blockade to prevent Soviet weapons deliveries to Cuba. This 1962 photo shows a Navy seaplane and destroyer ship shadowing a Soviet submarine.

(Photo via Library of Congress)

Two F/A-18C Hornet aircraft of Strike Fighter Squadron 74 above aircraft carrier USS Saratoga during Operation Desert Shield.

(Photo via US Navy)

Operation Desert Storm, the US-led mission to liberate Kuwait from Iraq, deployed 14 destroyers and 2 battleships. In 1991, the battleship USS Missouri fires at Iraqi targets stationed along the Kuwaiti coast.

(Photo via Wikipedia)

Here is one Navy pilot's stats marked on the side of his attack aircraft while deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm. They show combat missions flown, missiles launched, and bombs dropped.

(Photo via US Navy)

In response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the US entered into a "War On Terror" to eliminate al Qaeda. The Navy's amphibious assault ship, deployed in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, is shown dropping off a 5-ton truck.

(Photo via US Navy)

A Navy sailor working in an expeditionary command tests his night-vision goggles before setting off on another night patrol through Iraq’s waterways in 2007.

(Photo via US Navy)

A Navy Seahawk helicopter returns to the USNS Mercy hospital ship after completing a humanitarian mission in the Pacific in 2008.

(Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Varcarcel/U.S. Navy)

This F/A-18C Hornet is the nation's first strike-fighter jet and has a top speed of 1,190 miles per hour — and comes in at a cost of $39 million per plane. A typical Navy air wing has about 14 of these on hand.

(Photo by Chief Petty Officer Eric Powell/U.S. Navy)

The US Navy provides air, land, and sea support to the military. These divers search the sea floor during a salvage recovery exercise in 2010.

(Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Lussier/U.S. Navy)

Navy SEALs leap from the ramp of an Air Force transport aircraft during parachute training over a Marine Corps base in Hawaii. Exercises like this show collaboration between military branches.

(Photo by Cpl. Reece Lodder/U.S. Marine Corps)

The US Navy submarine force consists of four vessel classes, all of which are nuclear-powered. In this 2004 photo, the crew of the USS Portsmouth enjoy the waters of the Pacific Ocean while deployed.

(Photo via US Navy)

The USS Enterprise, or "Big E," is the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and has more steel construction than the Empire State Building. Though decommissioned in 2012, the Enterprise was once the Navy's largest vessel — with a 1960 price tag of $451 million.

(Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Brooks B. Patton/U.S. Navy)

The US Naval Academy Class of 2015 celebrates their graduation and commissioning ceremony. Many new officers will head to one of the 11 carrier strike groups the US has posted around the globe.

(US Navy Photo)

The amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay launches a rolling airframe missile for a live-fire exercise during Valiant Shield 2016.

(US Navy Photo)

An AV-8B Harrier, from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, takes off from the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp on August 29, 2016.

(US Navy Photo)

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For perhaps the first time ever, US Navy guided-missile destroyers had to fire interceptor missiles when Houthi militants in Yemen targeted them with anti-ship cruise missiles. Iran has also shown increasing hostility to US Navy ships in the Persian Gulf.

In the Pacific, China has continued to develop military installations on artificial islands in the South China Sea. While incoming President Trump has promised to shake up relations with Beijing, China has responded angrily by flying bombers in the South China Sea and by seizing an unmanned US Navy drone from international waters near the Philippines.

Meanwhile Russia has used the conflict in Syria to show off its naval might, by sending the Admiral Kuznetsov carrier group to the Mediterranean, where reportedly one of its submarines stalked a US carrier group.

More on aircraft carriers

22 PHOTOS
21 of the most imposing U.S. aircraft carriers
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21 of the most imposing U.S. aircraft carriers

An aircraft director guides an F/A-18C Hornet onto a catapult aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Navy

The USS Nimitz conducts an aerial demonstration.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Aiyana S. Paschal/ Released

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) transits the Strait of Hormuz.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class John Grandin

Sailors scrub down the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73).

Photo courtesy: U.S. Navy

Sailors man the rails of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) while departing Naval Base Coronado (NBC).

Photo courtesy: U.S. Navy

PCU Gerald R. Ford is floated for the first time.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua J. Wahl/Released

Blue Angels fly over USS George H.W. Bush in the Atlantic ocean.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Terrence Siren/Released

USS John C. Stennis conducts flight operations.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Matthew Martino/Released

Sailors man the rails as the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) enters Pearl Harbor.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Kelly M. Agee/Released

USS Carl Vinson is underway in the Arabian Gulf.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alex King/Released

Sailors observe as the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis sails alongside the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Navy

The aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73), center-right, leads the George Washington Carrier Strike Group.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ricardo R. Guzman/Released

The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan transports Sailors’ vehicles.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Shawn J. Stewart/RELEASED

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) departs San Francisco.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Navy photo by Lt.j.g. Pete Lee/Released

USS Harry S. Truman performs swing checks.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Navy

F/A-18 Hornets demonstrate air power over the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).

Photo courtesy: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Ignacio D. Perez/Released

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) transits the Strait of Hormuz.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Navy

USS Enterprise is underway with the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group in the Atlantic Ocean.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Harry Andrew D. Gordon/Released

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) returns to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel Barker/Released

USS Abraham Lincoln and USS John C. Stennis join for a turnover of responsibility in the Arabian Sea.

Photo courtesy: U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Eric S. Powell/Released

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DefenseNews.com notes that the Navy would have to come up with another carrier wing to support the additional carrier, and cites sources as saying today's Navy of nearly 324,000 uniformed personnel would have to grow to about 340,000 to 350,000.

Interestingly, the assessment calls for 355 ships, when earlier, hawkish observers, like Trump's supposed favorite for secretary of the Navy, Randy Forbes, had been calling for just 350. Today the Navy stands at 272 ships.

But the assessment is only that — an assessment. The Navy will have to get its budget approved by the legislature, and it's unclear so far if the Trump administration will support the 355 figure.

"As we evaluate the options presented in these studies and move to include them in our plans for tomorrow's Navy," current Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said to DefenseNews, "this FSA will need to be updated to reflect those changes that are determined to be most beneficial to meeting the Navy's missions of the future."

However, even the bullish 355 ships assessment wouldn't meet all of the security goals the Navy's combat commanders put forth, with Mabus saying doing so would require the US "to double its current annual budget, which is essentially unrealistic in both current and expected future fiscal environments."

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